Flying the flag

Steve Morrison
Steve Morrison

As the Olympic countdown clock ticks below the one-month mark, Eastbourne’s Steve Morrison prepares to be the sole competitor representing the sunshine coast in London this summer.

It was a case of so close, yet so far away for Eastbourne’s other athletes, but sailor Morrison managed to overcome the ruthless selection process to book his place in the London 2012 line-up with partner Ben Rhodes.

Next month’s Games will be Morrison and Rhodes’ second Olympics together after they also fought for a medal in Beijing in 2004.

The duo have been together since 2001 and became European champions in the 49er class in 2006.In 2007, they stepped up to become world champions in the same category in Portugal and followed that up with a silver medal the following year in Italy.

It was these successes that helped them to be chosen as two of the 16 sailors set to compete in Weymouth and Portland next month.

The 2012 London Olympic and Paralympic games commence in just under a month on July 27 and will see the Great British sailing team compete across ten events.

Meanwhile, three Eastbourne athletes will be forced to watch the Olympics from the sidelines after just missing out on qualification in their respective sports.

Seb Rodger missed out on a spot in London 2012 by two positions, finishing tenth out of 34 400m hurdlers at the Olympic Trials in Birmingham when only the eight fastest went through to the final.

The Sussex athlete should not be despondent though as, aside from the Games, the promising young star has had a tremendous month.

Switching from decathlon to the 400m hurdles proved a successful decision after he finished third in his first Senior England Championships.

He quickly followed this up with victory in his first national competition – the Aviva England Athletics Under 23 Championships in Bedford. He recorded a new personal best time of 51.29 which places him third in the Sussex all time list.

He’ll definitely be one to watch for the future as, at only 21, there’s plenty of time left for a possible Olympic success story.

Badminton player Heather Olver and triathlete Todd Leckie also both faced uphill battles in their quest for Olympic qualification.

Olver and doubles partner Mariana Agathangelou had to get a result against defending European Champions Valeriy Sorokina and Nina Vislova in order to get enough ranking points to make it into the Olympics.

This they could not do and failure to reach the final of the Indian Open later that month ended the Eastbourne athlete’s hopes of a London 2012 appearance.

Elsewhere, Todd Leckie had a more personal battle in his hunt for ranking points after picking up an unfortunate injury that hampered his performance in the San Diego World Triathlon Series in May.

He had needed to compete well in that event in order to be in contention for a spot in the GB team heading to Hyde Park next month.

While the Eastbourne duo were unlucky to narrowly miss out on their Olympic dream, the town still have Steve Morrison to pin all their hopes upon as he, and the rest of the country, prepare for the final few weeks ahead of the London 2012 Olympic Games.

PICTURED (l to r) Paralympics Team GB member Helena Lucas, Team GB Laser Radial member Alison Young and 49er members Steve Morrison and Ben Rhodes at Wymouth and Portland Sailing Centre.